Thursday, April 18, 2013

Think Different! College isn't just for the younger generation!

Ahh...approaching midlife there's the pressures to keep up with career, family, friends, volunteer work, hobbies, life responsibilities and...homework?

Yep you heard it right. Homework.

A friend had told me awhile back that Justine Bateman had gone back to college last year. She's a freshman and she's...47. Now to me that's not a big deal, but to my friend's son (he's 20), it was like "ewww". Apparently "women her age" have no business in the classroom.

Now that's just ridiculous. 

Justine has just as much right to be in that classroom as anyone else. She has something to offer and it should be respected. I commend her for going back to school and adding it into her already very full life. There's ALWAYS room for more learning! I got in touch with her and shared my sentiment. She acknowledges the hard work of women like her on her Smarty-Pants Women blog. A shout-out and dedication to those of us who are kicking college ass at a non-traditional age!

I found that when I returned to college eight years ago as a Poli-Sci turned History major, I was more organized, focused and studious than when I was 21. I know how to apply what I'm learning and I am far more able to think critically than at any other point in my life. My research papers are, not good...they're great. I mean really great. Though I work full-time, write and have other major responsibilities, I have been able to excel in my studies. My overall GPA is above 3.6 and my major GPA hovers somewhere near 3.8 and there's a reason for that: I've worked my ass off for it!  I'm so serious about my performance in class that I had to be talked off a ledge (not really but you know what I mean) last semester when I earned a "C" grade in my Mass Comm Law class. Mass Comm Law was a pure first amendment course that was the most fun, most interesting course I've ever taken (and I've taken excellent courses!) with one of the funniest, most intelligent, most engaging and knowledgeable professors ever. The grade was based on four paper, no homework, just four exams.

The C grade I earned in that course was first C I've ever earned. My grades tend to be B and higher, mostly A. My best pal Jenn, who is working on her PhD, reminded me that if you do the best you can, your very best, and you put everything into it, and you walk away with serious knowledge, a wonderful experience and a  C, you will live. Life will go on.

And it did.

The experience of that course and the immense knowledge I gained, will always be with me right here (points to head) and no one can ever take it from me.

At 43, I'm the oldest in most of my classes but I found that the professors like that. They know they don't have to worry about whether or not I'll take the class seriously. If I'm there at my age...with a full-time job and other activities/responsibilities, they know I'm all in. They take my questions seriously and they like when I speak up in class discussions. I know that my professors value my contributions. I'm not saying they don't value those of the younger students, but I'm saying that given my background as a forty-something female, military veteran, working full-time, writing, etc., they know that I'm not just talking out of my ass. They know I've worked hard to get where I am and they respect that.

It makes me feel good.

Today's young college-age generation has its share of ambitious, smart, and well-adjusted young people, but as it was when I was their age, they have a lot to learn. It's part of life and every individual who lives long enough to get from twenty to forty-something goes through it. Going from naive and immature to worldly and experienced is a rite-of-passage and really it never ends. As we move from forty-something through middle-age and beyond, it's the same thing. The older we get, the more experiences we have, the more of "life" we endure, the smarter we get. At least we're supposed to.

So to Justine, my cousin Debbie, and all the other older "sistahs" out there who are "doing it for themselves" and getting that college education at 40, 50, and beyond I say...

Rock on girls! 

What a great inspiration and example we are to the younger generation of women!

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